Off-site authority building can be summed up simply: getting links from other sites that point to your site. As many links as you can get from as high quality sites as you can get.
This is without question the most difficult part of SEO, where the real SEO work happens. Authority is by far the largest ranking factor (though user metrics are quickly rising to a similar level), and the off-site authority building that you do is what will determine whether your site ranks or not.
Unsurprisingly, it’s also going to eat up more words on this site than any other section.
Links have been at the heart of Google’s ranking algorithm from the day it launched, and every single year it has grown harder to rank for the simple reason that every year there are more sites competing for rankings, and the established sites have had an extra year to gain more links — so new sites need increasingly more (or better) links to have a shot at competing.
Because authority is so incredibly important to ranking, many SEOs have looked for and found shortcuts and automations to get links. Every year Google gets more and more aggressive about shutting down these shady and black-hat tactics. The good news is the legitimate ways sites have always used to earn links continue to work year after year. The bad news is those ways are work — that’s why so many SEOs spend so much time looking for shortcuts.
Before we start diving into the actual tactics of attracting links to your site, it’s worth taking some time to address what not to do — because you will be confronted with many people offering to sell you shortcuts that could get you penalized. We need to understand what Google expects your backlink profile to look to help identify what is a legitimate link-building method and what is against the rules.
Let’s start with what you should unequivocally not be doing.